Amman – A “historic gathering” of the Patriarchs of the East took place Friday evening as a “sign of unity” among different churches, ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival in the region, participants said. 
They stressed that the assembly was “a testimony that the Pontiff brings unity and peace wherever he treads”.
Latin Patriarch of the Holy Land and Jordan Fouad Twal said this “unique, first-of-its-kind gathering, is to commemorate the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Bishop of Rome, and the Patriarch of Constantinople Athanasius, after almost 1,000 years of division”.
Since then, Patriarch Twal said, the will for unity has intensified and extended to include Muslims as well.
The conference was held at the Latin Church Hall in Sweifieh in the capital.
Patriarch Twal said the Pontiff has a message to all during his speech at the papal mass on Saturday.
“We should listen carefully to comprehend the message of peace and love His Holiness is sending, and prepare an action plan for decision makers to follow.”
Also attending the press conference were Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and Cardinal of the Catholic Church Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi, Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Gregorios Lahham, Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Ishaq, Armenian Catholic Church Patriarch Narsis XIX, Syria Catholic Church Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako and Vatican Ambassador Giorgio Lingua.
Patriarch Lahham told The Jordan Times that the building of the churches at the Baptism Site is not a sign of division or disarray.
“Church building does, and will not separate us [Christians]; we are united in the love of Christ.”
He added that the Christian church is there for all — who should be united in love that would eventually lead to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Patriarch Ishaq said that Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land has reflected on church unity.
“Our gathering here [the Patriarchs of the East] is a sign that the Catholic Church works for the benefit of humanity.”
He added that he does not only represent the Coptic Catholics, but all Egyptians.
Patriarch Raphael I told journalists that the Holy See’s visit is a chance to reflect on one’s own actions and points of view.
 “I call for all the countries that face struggle and division to reflect on and evaluate their actions in order to start change.”
“We do not need flashy words to live in unity; we need action that is inspired by love,” he said